St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish celebrates 10th Founder’s Day Gala
by Victoria Shea
(Plain Press, May 2019) “Can you believe it has been ten years since we gathered around loved ones and like a phoenix rose from the ashes?” wrote Sister Dianne Piunno, SND, the pastoral associate for St. Ignatius of Antioch Church. “We are ten years stronger than ever because of everyone and everything you have done to see us to this point of countless blessings.”
The story of the annual Founder’s Day Gala for St. Ignatius of Antioch, although only ten years old, is truly much older and one could argue, is as old as the parish itself.
Started in 2010 in answer to former Bishop Richard Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland’s notification that St. Ignatius was to close, the annual Founder’s Day Gala has helped the parish in answering the four directives required to stay open: improving Mass attendance, strengthening parish finances, showing the ability to complete capital repairs and remaining dedicated to its outreach ministries.
In his letter to the parishioners, alumni and friends who attended the Founder’s Day Gala on March 30that LaCentre, St. Ignatius Pastor Father Kevin Estabrook wrote that he was impressed by his parish.
“I am excited and grateful to celebrate with you all this year’s Gala,” he wrote. “I’ve been deeply impressed by all the hard work that has gone into making this evening a success. All of the planning, phone calls, and the generosity of our guests shows the great commitment to the parish and school.”
A tradition of the Founder’s Day Gala is the awarding of The Antioch Chalice Award, which is given to “honor those who have extraordinarily contributed to the strength of Saint Ignatius of Antioch Parish as a place of worship, a community of faith, outreach and education.”
This year’s Antioch Chalice Award winner was Richard Wild, a parishioner of St. Ignatius of Antioch since 1969, member of the parish finance committee and former athletic leader for the Ignatius Basketball Association (IBA) for 35 years.
“How grateful we are that Rich Wild has been with us from the very beginning,” wrote Piunno in her letter. “Challenging us, encouraging us, lifting us to do more and to do better. Thank you, Rich, for your sincere dedication and countless hours of reviewing, recording, and revisiting our finances and crunching the numbers until we had it just right.”
Presenting Wild the Antioch Chalice Award was Father James McGonegal, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch and the second recipient of the Antioch Chalice Award. In his presentation, McGonegal spoke of his friendship with Wild, often “roasting” him with jokes and stories.
Using words like “kind,” “helpful,” “dedicated,” “funny” and “athletic,” McGonegal painted the story of Wild’s dedication throughout the years for St. Ignatius of Antioch.
A banker who recently retired after 43 years, Wild severed as athletic director from 1979 to 2014. During his tenure, Wild, with endorsement of pastors Father John Krasen and then Father James McGonegal, renovated the athletic program, “opening the parish doors to all within the community who wished to participate.”
Today, the IBA includes students from over 30 schools from grades 3 through 8. Students in the program also focus on academics, and at the 2018 “Championship Night”, 74 out of 200 student athletes received academic awards.
Honored to receive the award, Wild spoke briefly about the love of St. Ignatius and his love for his family, before thanking his wife of 54 years, Georgia, who has stood with him through everything he has done throughout the years for the parish.
Piunno also acknowledged Georgia’s dedication to her husband Rich in her letter to those in attendance at the Gala.
“Georgia, we thank you for letting Rich spend countless hours away from home,” she wrote. “To assure the people of the parish that we would and could do all that we have been able to accomplish in these ten years.”
Wild also thanked the students, volunteers and coaches of the IBA, stating that throughout the years, he has learned new things daily from those involved in the program. Proud of what the parish is doing for the community and especially the youth of the neighborhood, Wild stated that for him though, “It’s always about the kids.”